Specifically, a parent asked about the approach for 4th-6th grade Legamus Latinam in terms of the translation activities. What is the goal of the translation activities and how should I teach it at home with my student?
Goal Considerations ~ There are two scenarios for you and your student to imagine before embarking on the Legamus Latinam journey. First, what would happen if you were dropped off in a modern-day foreign country where nobody spoke English? You would have to listen and read a lot without understanding, yet miraculously people do this all the time with great success, even becoming fluent in a matter of months. Second, consider babies. They listen for at least one year before saying their first word. They were not given any rules or pronunciation, grammar rules, or spelling rules, or vocabulary lists, yet babies miraculously learn language. This brings us to what linguists call the “Language Acquisition Center.” This is the fancy term for the portion(s) of the brain that processes language. No one knows how it works, only that it does work.
With the Translation activities, the goal is simply to immerse the student in the language, so he or she is hearing and seeing it, providing the Language Acquisition Center with plenty of language to process. Your goal is to help your student find the vocabulary he or she is actively learning in a given translation and then to look for other familiar items. For example, look at the English provided for the translation. Can you find which word in the Latin probably goes with the English word? All of this “work” will help your student begin to process the language. Whatever you do, don’t make the translation activity about looking up every single word and correctly identifying it. This would defeat the goal and approach and deflate the student.